Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Relocation Costs

Imagine someone or some organization offering you $2 million per year to improve the regional talent pool. How would you spend it? That's a lot of money, but rather modest when you consider how much might be thrown down the brain drain or the various marketing campaigns launched to bolster the image of the city at the center of your economy. When I consider the costs of relocation, I gain a better appreciation about the machinations to keep people tied to home:

Get financial advice on whether the move makes economic sense. Factor in not only a new salary, but also a different cost of living, moving expenses and varying real-estate markets. Moving is a sizable financial investment, with the average relocation within Canada costing about $50,000. Transporting household goods are the single biggest part of any moving expense.

Enticing a mid-career family to move to Pittsburgh doesn't make much sense. Choose your boomerang migrants carefully. Bring back entrepreneurial talent if you insist on spending your budget on this demographic. A better idea along these lines would be some sort of diaspora mentorship such as Globalscot given that many shrinking cities don't have enough of entrepreneurial executive experience.

I would do a regional audit of worker shortages and then figure out the top talent production locations in this field. College graduates can relocate on the cheap. Young adults (and immigrants) are innovative when it comes to dealing with a high cost of living. Short of direct financial remuneration to incentivize the move your region, you might fund a Bulldogs in the Bluegrass program.

I've read about a number of programs that seek to match local businesses with local graduates. The genius of Bulldogs is that it introduces new people to the charms of Louisville (among other cities). Rust Belt cities in particular need to break into new networks and establish different path dependent migrations. I could see Bruins in the Burgh or Cardinal at Carnegie placing talented interns at promising startups (e.g. PeaceMaker or Etcetera Edutainment). I could see AlphaLab or even the Pittsburgh Technology Council running this type of initiative. The hope is to establish fresh talent pipelines and increase network in-migration.

4 comments:

Paz said...

Spot on. I think those in the expatriate community already know about Pittsburgh's charms. The critical battle is for the souls of people while they are still in college. In class today our professor asked "Who is planning on moving to New York, Boston, or staying here in DC?" Nearly every hand shot up. "Now who is moving somewhere in the middle of the country?" He might as well have asked who was moving to Antarctica.

aothman said...

That Louisville article sounds pretty incredulous over the fact that a recent Yale grad with no ties to the area would end up there.

What's interesting is that it might make more sense to do this kind of recruiting at top schools, because as school quality increases more and more students attend from out-of-state. If you've already lived far away from home for four years, it's much less of a big deal to move somewhere new after college.

Jim Russell said...

What's interesting is that it might make more sense to do this kind of recruiting at top schools, because as school quality increases more and more students attend from out-of-state. If you've already lived far away from home for four years, it's much less of a big deal to move somewhere new after college.We're thinking along the same lines. Which programs produce the most geographically mobile talent? I'd bet the list of ideal school targets is a short one, lending itself to an efficient use of money to fill that talent pipeline.

The Urbanophile said...

The Bulldogs plan is an excellent one. Even if it doesn't lead to someone moving to Louisville, it is building a Louisville connection to the Yale alumni network of the future. Good move.

And yes, Louisville invented this, though it appears that Yale is extending it to other cities.